Silk Plants Direct Outdoor Tree Review

I’ve been blogging for a year and nine months, and for the first time I received something in exchange for providing a review.  Finally!  Super exciting!

Before I get started, let me tell you a little about my history with plants and why I jumped on this opportunity.

When I was in my 20’s, I always had houseplants.  For a while, I lived in an apartment with a “sun room”.  When I lived there, I had ten to fifteen houseplants.  I was really into caring for them.  I had no pets or kids.  I had one plant for probably 15 years.

Then, I got married, got a dog, and had a baby.  I said good-bye to all of the plants, and haven’t looked back.

Now let’s talk about my relationship with outdoor plants.  Here, I’ll keep it succinct.  I have a bad back, and bony knees.  These are not the makings of a good gardener.  My husband handles the yard.

So, when I found out about the opportunity to do a review on artificial plants, it seemed to be for me.  I’m all about low maintenance.

While I could have selected an indoor plant, I decided I liked the idea of an outdoor artificial plant because it seemed a little different.  You see artificial indoor plants all the time, but I wasn’t sure I had ever seen an artificial outdoor plant.

This plant is from Silk Plants Direct.  I chose the Cedar Pine Tree.  Besides finding the idea of an outdoor artificial plant interesting, with Christmas coming up, I thought the kids and I might put some lights on it and leave it indoors for a while!

The box it arrived in was very narrow, so the plant was pretty scrunched up.  This is how it looked after a couple of days.

So, admittedly, not quite like the photo online.  But, the branches may go down more after a little time.  I figure it’s okay that it’s not perfect and symmetrical, because a live bush wouldn’t be either.  The pot is a little out of proportion, but if I were going to put it outside, I would get a larger, decorative planter.  Problem solved.

The leaves look super realistic to me (maybe just a little bit too shiny).

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’ll give it a 7.  I definitely think it would be worthwhile to check out some of their other plants.


You Should See The LEGO Movie (Even if You Don’t Have Kids)

I’ve watched a lot of kids’ shows over the last eight years.  A LOT.  Some are pretty entertaining, and some are downright painful.  Have you seen Dinosaur Train on PBS?  Seriously . . . drugs had to be involved in the creation of that show.

The LEGO Movie is one of those rare movies that the kids and I enjoy equally.  Actually, I think I like it even more than they do.

Why?  It’s hilarious.  It’s a commentary on the following (particularly in the U.S.):

  • How mindless we can be.
  • How we put a great deal of effort into fitting in and getting other people to like us.
  • How we sometimes follow rules without questioning them, even when they make no sense.
  • How we sometimes ignore subtle messages, even when we have a feeling that something is not right.
  • We’re discouraged from maintaining our uniqueness.

If you’re even mildly interested in Conspiracy Theories, this movie is for you.  I talked a friend of mind into checking it out.  He doesn’t have kids, and he was reluctant.  However, after watching some of it, he said “It’s a protest movie!”

The movie starts with Emmet, the main character getting ready for work.  He has the TV on, and President Business, the ruler of LEGO world, is making some announcements.  He says, “. . .  take extra care to follow the instructions, or you’ll be put to sleep.. . . ”  He continues with his message about Taco Tuesday.  Emmet responds by asking himself, “Did he say put to sleep?”  Of course, he forgets about it 10 seconds later.

I partially like this movie because my son is very into LEGO kits.  These are pretty complex, and you must follow the instructions exactly, or the project won’t turn out correctly.  When I was a kid, my brothers had a lot of LEGOs, but there weren’t kits then.  You just made stuff.  So, I’m kind of happy when my son tears apart what he made with the kit to use the parts for his own creation.

In the movie, there is a focus on always following the directions.  Most of the characters are blissfully oblivious to the evil plans of President Business (or Lord Business, as the Master Builders who have a clue, call him).

Another quote from Emmet, “President Business is going to end the world?  But he’s such a good guy.  And Octan – they make good stuff . . . music, dairy products, coffee, TV shows, surveillance systems, all history books, voting machines.  Wait a minute.”

By the way, even though the evil character is called “President Business”, this is not a commentary about our current President.  It came out in 2014, during a different administration.  It’s not a commentary about a former President either.  It is an observation of what our society has become.  It’s like I’ve said before, most politicians, regardless of party, are for themselves, not us.

You should see The LEGO Movie because, believe it or not, this kids’ movie is holding a mirror up to our faces, while making us laugh.  It might just make you think, while entertaining you.  Hopefully, you won’t be like Emmet and forget about it 10 seconds later.

The Merry Kid-oliday Giveaway!

Sponsored By: PlaSmart, I See Me!, Handpainting – Fine Art Prints, Farm Hoppers, The Pencil Grip, and Ailihen

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

1 Lucky Winner Will Receive:

$244 worth of goodies!


PlasmaCarin winner’s choice of in-stock color! $69.99 RV!

I See Me!

Handpainting – Fine Art Prints

Winner’s choice of any four, 8×10 prints! Pick out a set of 4 prints, or mix and match! $54 RV!

Farm Hoppers

Winner’s choice of in-stock Farm Hopper! $29.89 RV!

The Pencil Grip

A 24 pack of Thin Stix! $24.99 RV!


HD850 Volume Limiting Headphones with SharePort and Microphone! Winner’s choice of in-stock color! $19.98 RV!
Open To US entrants and must be 18+ to enter

Giveaway Dates ~ 11/27 9:00 AM EST through 12/14 11:59PM EST
Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winner will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

YochiYochi 3-in-1 Safety Harness Giveaway! 5 Winners – $135 TRV!

Sponsored By: Lucky Baby World

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

5 WINNERS will receive:

A YochiYochi 3-in-1 Safety Harness! Can be used as a walking harness, portable high chair, and cart safety strap. $135 TRV Giveaway!

Open to US entrants only and must be 18+ to enter.
Giveaway Dates ~ 11/22 9:00AM EST through 12/13 11:59PM EST
Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winners will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winners have 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

LOL Surprise Pets Giveaway

Look at these cute little things!

Sponsored & Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

Winner will receive:

An L.O.L. Surprise! Pets (Series 3), Lil Sisters (Series 2), & Charm Fizz (Series 2) Prize Pack!

Love, Mrs. Mommy is hosting and sponsoring this years hottest holiday toys as a giveaway! Included in this prize pack is the BRAND NEW (just released!), L.O.L. Surprise! Pets (Series 3)! WOW!  Everyone wants L.O.L. Surprise! goodies and stores can’t keep them on the shelves (I know, as it took me forever to get some for my daughter!), so I decided to share the love! 🙂 Good luck everyone!

Open to entrants from the Continental US and must be 18+ to enter.

Giveaway Dates ~ 11/13 9:00 AM EST through 12/4 11:59PM EST
Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy will be mailing this prize pack to the winner. All other participating bloggers are not held responsible for prize fulfillment or shipment. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winner will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this, please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

I Want to Be Star of the Week

My daughter will be “Star of the Week” at her preschool next week.  It is a pretty exciting time for her, but it’s sadly the last time at this rodeo for us as a family.  My son also attended the same preschool for two years.  This is my daughter’s second, and final year.

You may be wondering what on earth is “Star of the Week”?  It’s not anything the kids earn.  Every child gets to be the Star of the Week once during the year.  I had to print out 5 – 7 photos of my daughter, the rest of the family and her pets.  She and I will complete a sheet about her favorite things.  Her photos will be displayed in the hallway for the whole school to see all week.

But, here’s the best part.  Show and Tell.  She has school four days per week, and she gets to bring up to two items every single day for the week.  I loved show and tell as a child.  Am I alone here?  It’s got me wondering what it was about Show and Tell that I loved so much.

I guess it’s getting to share something about yourself.  It’s got me thinking – I would still like to do that as an adult!  Maybe that should be my next meeting or training icebreaker!  I think it’s a great idea.

It’s also got me to thinking about the seemingly contradictory idea that everyone is special.  When we show and tell our treasures, it does feel like we’re telling what it is that makes us special.

A lot of people complain about sports now – how everyone gets a trophy, regardless of talent, skill, or hard work, and how that isn’t right.  And, to an extent, I agree.  But, it seems there is a place for the idea that everyone should have a chance to feel special.

But, if everyone is special, then doesn’t the word lose its meaning? Can everyone be special?  It depends on which definition you choose.

As usual, I went to my go-to –  If you focus on the definition of being “distinguished or different from what is ordinary or usual”, then, no, everyone cannot be special.  Only people different from the ordinary . . . However, I like this definition better:  “having a specific or particular function, purpose, etc.”  We can all be special then, can’t we?  We all have a particular, important, unique purpose.  I like that a lot.

A little off-topic is the noun definition:  “a special person or thing.”  Sorry, but I can’t think of anything but Emmet being “The Special” in The Lego Movie, which I think has inspired my next post, which will be about why everyone should see The Lego Movie, whether they have kids or not.

Okay.  Sorry.  Had to go there.  Back to the idea about each of us being special.  A co-worker has a little snippet hung in his cubicle about “Special Snowflakes”.  I’m sure you’ve heard the idea that younger generations feel entitled, are easily offended, etc.  So, it could be argued that what I’m describing sounds a little like that.

But, hopefully, it’s a little (or a lot) deeper.  If you have more than one child, certainly one or more of them have asked who is your favorite, or who you love the most.  Whether you have have one child, or fifteen, your children are special to you because they are yours (whether biological or adopted), and each one is different and special in their own way.

I’ve wondered if that’s how God sees us, too.  If He loves us all, can each individual also be special?  Lyrics from a Johnny Diaz song come to my mind:

“There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you”










Book and Puppet Giveaway!

Great Giveaway with Five Winners!

Sponsored By: Happy Apple Books

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

5 Winners will receive:

A Signed Copy of Charlie’s Monster & a Puppet! ($75 TRV Giveaway)

Book Synopsis A devoted fish name Charlie lacks the courage of confronting things unknown to him. There’s only one thing that Charlie loves more than his new home, and that’s living with his best friend Bobby. One day, Charlie’s new home got spooky, and he comes face to face with a monster. Will Charlie muster enough courage to defeat the monster? Will Charlie use all his strength to protect Bobby? Read this delightfully fun book to find out!
Open to US entrants and must be 18+ to enter.
Giveaway Dates ~ 11/4 9:00 AM EST through 11/25 11:59PM EST
Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winners will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winners have 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

I Think I Need Help. I’m Addicted to Australian Dramas

It all started in May.  I had finished binge-watching The Good Wife, and my DVR was full of stuff for the kids and hubby, but nothing for me.  So, I whined to my librarian.

She told me she had heard good things about a series called, A Place to Call Home.  You probably gathered from the title of this post, that it is an Australian drama.  I enjoyed it a great deal.  The story takes place in the 1950’s and deals with the aftermath of WWII, among other things.  There is a fifth season, but the disks aren’t available through the library yet, so I was left hanging at the end of Season 4 (I should mention, we live out in the country.  We have limited internet options, and limited data, so Netflix is not something we can do).

Besides enjoying the plot, I liked watching for similarities and differences in Australian culture vs. American culture.  Of course, they drive on the wrong side of the road.  Then, there’s the accent.  I was more surprised by the commonalities than the differences, even 60 years ago.

So, when that was over, I searched online for Australian dramas, and found McLeod’s Daughters.  It ran in Australia from 2000 through 2009.  It’s about two half-sisters, who had the same father, but different mothers.  Long story short, now all of their parents have died.  Both daughters run the ranch they inherited from their father.  They fire all of the male employees for theft early on, and now it’s all women running the place.

It’s admittedly a little soap-opera-ish at times, but entertaining.  Tess is the younger sister, and she’s always trying new things (organic farming, growing hemp, etc.).  She buys some Alpacas.  Her neighbor, Alex, doesn’t think too much of the animals.  Here’s an exchange between the two of them:

Tess (about the Alpacas):  “They guard the sheep.  Keep the foxes away.”

Alex:  “Is that right?  I’m not surprised.  The fox is probably paralyzed with laughter.”

Come on!  It’s funny!  Isn’t it?  You know – Alpacas are kind of goofy looking.  Maybe I’m easily amused.  What’s not to like about Australian ranch humor?

And, have you heard the saying, “Bob’s your Uncle”?  There’s a restaurant with that name not too far from here.  I just thought it was a peculiar name, but I kind of liked it.  Good food too.  Once I had kids, my brother, Bob, was my kids’ Uncle, so I liked it even more.  But, I didn’t know it was a real saying.  They say it in Great Britain and apparently Australia too.  It means, “there you have it” or “everything’s alright”.  In the case of McLeod’s daughters, it seemed to mean, “And we’re back in business.”  It sounds real nice with that Australian accent.  But, what doesn’t?  Nothin’, I reckon.

Then, there are the Utes.  Bet you didn’t know about those either – did ya?  Well, don’t feel bad.  I didn’t either.  A couple episodes in, I noticed a vehicle that looked remarkably like the El Camino my parents had in the late 70’s.  So, I thought to myself, “Self . . .”  just kidding.  Actually, I thought, “Wow.  That really looks like an El Camino.  I don’t remember the last time I saw one of those.”  So, after seeing them a few times on the show, I decided to do a little research about the Australian El Camino.

That’s when I found out that, in Australia, they call it a Ute, which is short for utility vehicle.  It’s rather ugly, isn’t it?  They even have a rural festival that revolves around the Ute.  I suspect, from the photos, that it gets a bit out of hand.  But, there is something about the Australian culture and enthusiasm that I like.  I am happy I have another 7 or 8 seasons of McLeod’s Daughters left.  When that’s over, what will I do?  Well, find another Australian drama, I reckon.





Grief – Two Years Later

My brother died on October 16th, 2015.  I started blogging in March of 2016.  So yeah, I started writing partially because it’s therapeutic.  But, why did I have to start a blog?  Why couldn’t I just write stuff for myself, and save it on a thumb drive?  I don’t know.  I guess most people who create something want to share it . . . otherwise, it kind of seems like there’s no point.  Maybe sharing could help someone else.  Maybe it would help me to make connections . . . maybe it would accelerate my healing.

Did it accomplish any of those things?  Maybe.  I felt the need to write about it a lot for a while.  I’ve mostly been writing about other things over the last few months.  With the anniversary coming up, though, it’s made me think about what grief is like two years later.

Before my brother got sick, when I would hear about someone losing a sibling or a spouse too young, I would wonder how they could stand it.  How could they cope with such a loss?  I would wonder, and pray that I never would experience anything like it.  Sadly I am now a member of a club I never wanted to join.  I don’t wish membership to this club on my worst enemy.

Does grief get better with time?  Yes and no.  The frequency is less, but the intensity is the same.  I bought a book about grief a month or two after my brother died.  Probably the only helpful advice I got from it was that everyone is different, and I should allow myself to take as long as I need.  So, I don’t get upset with myself when I feel sad.  In fact, I knew from the time that he went into hospice, when I finally accepted that there was very little hope, that this was a loss that my other brother, my parents, and I would never fully recover from.  And, I suppose we shouldn’t.  It’s a loss that deserves to be felt.

It still feels very surreal to me.  In the beginning, I think I was afraid not to think about it.  Afraid if I let my guard down, it would sneak up on me and it would be like going through all of it again for the first time.  Maybe my instincts were right.  I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and it’s like it’s all happening again for the first time.

I’m quite certain there has not been a single day that I have not thought about my brother.  I didn’t realize, until the first week after he passed, just how much I thought about my childhood and both of my brothers on a daily basis.  In the beginning, so many of my thoughts were dominated by the horror of his five month illness.  I could hardly picture him healthy, as much as I wanted to remember the good times.

Have the holidays and birthdays gotten any easier?  A little, I guess.  My daughter’s and my birthday landed between my brother’s death and his Memorial Service.  I still remember meeting family for my daugther’s birthday party and having this feeling of anticipation of my brother calling to let me know he was there waiting, or on his way.  Something he often did when we met somewhere.  I’ve gotten used to the idea that there won’t be any more of those calls.  I’ve learned that getting used to it, and liking it aren’t the same thing.  Have I accepted it?  I don’t really know the answer to that either.

I do hope that this post will help others who are grieving to know they aren’t alone.  Two years later, and I guess I’m still working through it all.  Maybe I always will be.





Are You a Good Listener?

Most people aren’t.  In fact, you have probably encountered a few people today who either interrupted you or were just thinking about what they were going to say next while you were talking.

“Listening is the new loving”.  I heard Luis Palau say this on K-LOVE the other day.  It sounds cheesy coming from me, but not from him.

I remember going through an interview several years ago.  It was through a staffing agency, and the woman had such fine listening skills, it actually took me off-guard.  You have probably heard some tips about active listening.   Paraphrase back to the person what they’ve said.  Get confirmation that you’ve understood, etc.  She was so good at paraphrasing what I had said, she said it far better than I did originally.  An impressive skill.

It can be frustrating speaking to a poor listener.  But, when two poor listeners get together – watch out.  It’s a bit like two narcissists.

I’m getting a little negative here.  It’s obvious that it’s a treat to talk to a good listener.  But, what are some of the positives of being a good listener?

When my anxiety was at its worst, I went to a counselor for a while.  I was telling her about how I had to give an employee some bad news about her job.  I told her how I hated for this person to have negative feelings about me, when I was only the messenger, and not the decision-maker.  She challenged me to take the focus off of myself, and instead truly focus on this person . . . listening and thinking about what I could do for her, instead of getting anxious about how she was thinking and feeling about me.

If you suffer from anxiety, a trick to reduce some of your anxious feelings is to take the focus off of yourself.  So, you are not only benefiting the other person by genuinely listening; you are also helping yourself.

I think I’m a pretty good listener, but not all of the time.  My husband would say I’m a poor listener at times.  Our house can be chaotic – so yes, it’s true.  I don’t always catch everything.  Like most people, if I have stressful things going on, I can be distracted.  But, I recognize that it is a choice to be a good listener – and it takes an effort.  Hmmm . . . kind of like it being a choice to love someone.  It takes effort to make relationships (romantic or otherwise) last.  So, maybe Luis Palau is right.  Maybe listening is the new loving.  What do you think?